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NoLa Rising Founder Escapes Worst of Trumped Up City Charges May 22, 2008

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street.
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2 comments

Updated again on 5/23 11:00 am

No word yet on NOLA.com but NoLa Rising founder and artist Micheal Dingler reports on his own site he triumphed over city-sanctioned graffiti vandal Fred Radtke (a.k.a. The Grey Ghost), who had used his connections to the NOPD to have municipal charges filed against Dingler for the posting of public art at sites in New Orleans.

This is good news for Dingler, whom Radtke arranged to have charged with 1,100 counts of unlawfully posting signs, charges that could have resulted in $50,000 in fines. Dingler reports in his brief post that Radtke stormed out of the courtroom when charges were dismissed.

Now, to get the real public menace–Radtke–off the streets and in court where he belongs.

Update:The outcome, as reported by New Orleans CitiBusiness (but not by the Times-Picayune or NOLA.Com) is not as good as I had hoped. Dingler had to agree to pay $200 in fines and to stop posting his artworks in public places.

Radtke, as the series of stories in CitiBusiness points out, remains free to deface public and private property with impunity and the support of the N.O.P.D. The net outcome is that Radtke has won. NoLa Rising is no longer free to post free public art in public places. This is ridiculous.

I encourage you to write to the City Council and encourage them to amend the graffiti and bill posting ordinances to grant a clear freedom for groups like NoLa Rising to post transient artworks in public places If Radtke can have the city’s blessing, then so should NoLa Rising.

N.B.– I’ve changed the headline a bit to be more realistic

Update No. 2–Michael Dingler gives a detailed account on the NoLa Rising blog.

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Legalized Vandalism and Vigilantism in New Orleans January 21, 2008

Posted by The Typist in Citizen Journalism, Debrisville, New Orleans, NOLA, Rebirth, Recovery, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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10 comments

What a mean spirited little golum is this Fred Radtke? A vigilante who dashes gray paint over public and private property wherever he spots graffiti or advertising posters, who is allowed to roam the streets with impunity and deface public and private property at whim, sometimes covering public safety signs (stop signs, for example) in his demented quest to cover all of the city’s graffiti.

An interesting turn of urban life is all it was, until Radtke took off after folk artist Michael Dingler and his NOLA Rising project. Today’s Citibusiness weekly reports that Radtke initiated a complaint and resulted in Dingler be charged with 1,100 counts of unlawfully posting signs on telephone poles that could cost him more than $50,000 in fines.

Dingler explains his act of civic art making on the NOLA Rising blog in a June 2007 posting. This is a public art installation, not criminal activity. Sadly, the N.O.P.D. seems to agree with Radtke, who’s own clearl acts of vandalism of public and private property they condone and even encourage.

The New Orleans Police Department, however, condones Radtke’s actions. NOPD often calls him directly to cover graffiti and spokesman Sgt. Joe Narcisse said they have no intention of charging Radtke with any crimes.

Here’s an interesting response from street artist unknownparts which found on Flickr.

radtke.jpg

I can’t believe that the city has given tens of thousands of dollars to some mean-spirited freak so he can spread his own form of ugly paint-based vandalism all over public and private property at his own whim. I have no problem with the city removing or covering obvious gang tags. However, by going after street artists like the NOLA Rising group or even unknownparts and his sort–artists who appropriate public space for what is arguably art–Radtke is no different than the tagger thugs.

This is insane. I just fired of a letter to my City Council Person Shelly Midura demanding Radtke be required to return the tens of thousands of city tax dollars he’s been given, that all charges against Dingler be dropped, and that the N.O.P.D officers who colluded in Radtke’s vendetta against Dingler should be required to apologize, if not in fact be fired for their collusion in Radkte’s own campaign of vandalism.

What NOLA Rising has done is a tremendous work of civic betterment, one tiny poster at a time, contributed to by tens if not hundreds of people. It is a bright spot in the gray landscape of our continuing disaster, a landscape not improved one bit by Radtke’s own gray tags. It is not Dingler that should be stopped and punished but Radtke, and everyone in city government–in City Hall or the N.O.P.D–who has supported him